Amazon and the Mobile Ecosystem Wars
By Mike Anderson
Amazon is getting a lot of press lately, focused on rumors of new devices and capabilities that pit it against mobile ecosystem leaders. With the Kindle Fire, it has carved out a chunk of the tablet market as it sits as number three behind Apple and Samsung. But the competition is heating up across the mobile ecosystem, and the pressure to continue innovating is high. Amazon is taking action on multiple fronts for competing in the mobile ecosystem wars.
Amazon and the Tablet Wars
The battle in tablets continues to be intense. Although with the Kindle Fire Amazon was able to make solid inroads, this market is a moving target. Google has turned up the heat with the Nexus 7, as have the rumors of a smaller Apple tablet (iPad mini, or possibly a larger iPod Touch). Conveniently leaked information about multiple new Kindle models including a 10-inch confirm what we’ve anticipated since the introduction of the Kindle Fire. Having multiple device form factors that give the same user experience is a new ecosystem priority.
Rumors of an Amazon phone have been around for some, but are coming with greater intensity and frequency. This does make sense. Tablets have created a new direction for how people interact with computing, but smartphones are the leading edge of how consumers shop. People will increasingly have both a tablet and a smartphone, and they are going to expect them to work together and deliver a consistent user experience. Amazon needs to address this, and can do so without having to deliver high margins on the hardware by driving more shopping and consumption of music, books and videos. A low cost device with a custom Amazon experience and bundled features like a discounted Amazon Prime or Amazon Cloud Player could be enticing.
Amazon’s Content Competition
Amazon’s strengths in the content side of the ecosystem are books and the shopping experience. Video and music are priorities, but those areas face greater competition. Changes to Amazon’s Cloud Player licensing are aimed at both Apple and Google, but eroding iTunes with Amazon’s service threatens Apple’s ecosystem. Video is a priority for a competitive content ecosystem, and Amazon’s new iPad Video App is aimed to put Amazon into the video and TV mix to slow Apple’s progress.
Being a player in mobile takes strength with continual innovation in multiple areas of the mobile ecosystem. Amazon is taking some of the right steps to be competitive. Apple and Google are formidable, and Microsoft is just beginning to warm up. The second half of 2012 will be exciting.